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To The Manor Born - Series 2
BBC/Roadshow Entertainment . R4 . COLOR . 222 mins . G . PAL

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Here's the second instalment of the PAL television release of the much-loved English sitcom, To the Manor Born.

This is the complete Season Two of the show, with six half-hour episodes spread extravagantly across two discs.

I'll now plagiarise unashamedly from my own review on this site of Series One:

Yes, To the Manor Born is totally snobbish and hideously class and status ridden. And it's just great fun from start to finish. Audrey fforbes-Hamilton is, of course, a total monster, and that fine British television actress Penelope Keith (the eternally memorable Margot in The Good Life) obviously relishes playing the upper-crust snooty bitch from hell. In The Good Life Margot was a snob of the first order. Audrey of course isn't a snob - she's the real thing, and won't let anyone forget it.

Opposite her, Richard De Vere, played elegantly with just the right touch of 'foreigness' by Peter Bowles, doesn't stand a chance. Each episode presents these two characters engaged in very polite social and class warfare. Sometimes Richard De Vere wins a skirmish - but deep down, you know Audrey will win the war.

End of plagiarism. Season Two stays true to the formula, but gets the two characters just a shade more involved, to lead towards the far more interesting goings-on in Series Three. This is well crafted, thoroughly genteel comedy of a sort we just don't see being made today. Which is probably just as well -- but that's no reason not to relish these glimpses of a vanished past.

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The transfer -- sound and image -- is acceptable, and preserves the show in all its relatively pedestrian BBC Video quality. You know what I mean -- dullish picture, muted colours, but nothing bad enough to disturb enjoyable viewing. Sound is preserved well, giving very clear emphasis to dialogue.

The big flaw is in the extras.

Unforgivably, the only extra worth mention, aside from textual filmographies and production notes, is a 12-minute interview with the series' creator and writer Peter Spence. But it sounds very familiar. Yes, it's a repeat of the same interview included in the Season One package.

Compare that with the Region One edition in the US. The series was issued in America in a box-set featuring all 21 episodes. It also carried interviews with both Penelope Keith and Peter Bowles, along with four radio episodes.

Will this extra material appear on our local Season Three package? Don't hold your breath.......


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  •   And I quote...
    "Great vintage comedy series -- but where are the special features?"
    - Anthony Clarke
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